Moree Under 16s rugby league team broke a nearly-decadelong drought on the weekend, after the team beat Tingha at a grand final showdown.
“It’s the first time in about nine years that an Under 16s Moree team has won the grand final,” a jubilant coach Aaron Annis-Brown said.
The team played off against their opponents at Inverell on Saturday to steal a 24-4 victory.
“The points show the boys’ attack was good, but they had terrific defence early in the game. They showed terrific team effort. The boys had a positive attitude going into the game and they were very well structured and they played well,” Annis-Brownsaid.
It was an unexpected turn of events after the team had a rocky start to the season.
“At the start of the year a lot of people might have written them off. The team lost the first game against Tingh and then Glen Innes beat them. They were at the bottom of the ladder at the end of the first half,” Annis-Brown said.
Though the recharged team managed to bounce back in the second half of the season and win every game. Annis-Brown credited it to the boys and their strong sense of brotherhood.
“Some players have been playing rugby league since they were five-years-old. All the boys have gone to school together and they’re good mates who just love to play football together,” he said.
It’s a kind of sportsmanship that saw the same team of boys win the grand finals when they played in the Under 12s and 14s divisions.
Moree Junior Rugby League Club president Aaron Dudgeon praised the team support.
“They’re a really good bunch of boys. There were some players who were 15-years-old and the game against Tingha was their first grand final, but they played with teammates who have been through this stage before and I think that helped to calm their nerves,” Dudgeon said.
Teammates Marlou French, Mark Pegus and Daniel and Dwayne Smith have enjoyed a stupendous year as the boys played for the Under 18s Boomerangs at the grand final this year.
For many of the players, the grand final against Tingha was the last time they would play in the team as they now head into the seniors division.
Dudgeon said the win was a great way to farewell outgoing players like Jacob Robinson, Corey Rickets, Anton Jarrett, Brendan Baker, Aidan Mills, David Annis-Brown and Josh Gerard.
“There are so many boys who have played together for so long, and they have so much talent.”
Josh Gerard scored the Player of the Match award, Mark Pegus earned Best and Fairest, Brandon Barker staked his claim on Best Back, Jacob Robinson took Best Forward, Jock Brazel stole Most Improved, Jack Ross walked away with Most Dedicated and Kaleb Toughton walked away with the coveted McIntosh Memorial Award.
A shout out was given to all the volunteers, club members and parents who helped to make the season possible.
Adam Annis-Brown was thanked for running the water out and helping on the field, and Vicky Annis-Brown got a nod for washing the team jerseys and managing the sign-on sheets.